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Publisher's Summary

A collection of BBC Radio dramatisations of Elizabeth Gaskell's well loved novels - plus bonus material

Elizabeth Gaskell was one of Victorian England's pre-eminent female novelists. Admired by Charles Dickens, who described her as his 'dear Scheherazade', she mingled storytelling and social realism to superb effect in her highly acclaimed fiction.

This comprehensive collection comprises dramas and readings of her finest works and some lesser-known pieces. Among the adaptations are her final, unfinished novel Wives and Daughters, her debut novel Mary Barton and her only historical novel, Sylvia's Lovers; as well as the 1851 novella Mr Harrison's Confession (a prequel to Cranford), and her great novel of industrialisation, female independence and identity, North and South. All feature star casts including Emerald O'Hanrahan, Sue Johnston, Jodie Comer, Emily Mortimer, Rod Hudd, David Threlfall and Julian Rhind-Tutt.

Also included are readings of Mrs Gaskell's chilling supernatural tale 'The Old Nurse's Story', her much-loved novel of life in a small town and its female inhabitants, Cranford, her festive short story 'Christmas Storms and Sunshine' and her final novella, Cousin Phillis.

Based on true events, Stephen Wakelam's detective drama Death at the Bed End, starring Kenneth Cranham, explores the controversy surrounding Elizabeth Gaskell's biography of Charlotte Brontë and the libel threat that followed its publication. Also included are Mrs Gaskell: Portrait of a Victorian Novelist by Barry Campbell; inspired by the author’s letters. And in Great Lives: Elizabeth Gaskell, historian Amanda Vickery and biographer Jenny Uglow discuss Mrs Gaskell's life, work and achievements with presenter Francine Stock.

Cast and credits

Written by Elizabeth Gaskell

Written by Stephen Wakelam

Mary Barton

Dramatised by Lavinia Murray. Produced and directed by Claire Grove and Tracey Neale

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 15 September-9 November 2001

Mr Harrison's Confessions

Adapted for radio by Jeremy Front. Produced and directed by Sally Avens.

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 27 June 1988

'The Old Nurse's Story'

Produced by Kay Patrick. First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 24-25 May 1984

North and South

Dramatised by Charlotte Keatley.

Directed by Michael Fox.

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 29 June 1997

Sylvia's Lovers

Dramatised by Ellen Dryden. Produced and directed by Pauline Harris.

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 6-13 March 2016

Wives and Daughters

Dramatised by Theresa Heskins. Produced and directed by Peter Leslie Wild

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 29 November-10 December 2010

Cousin Phillis

Produced by Trevor Hill. First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 1 September - 6 October 1969


Produced by Julian Wilkinson. First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 1 November 2019

'Christmas Storms and Sunshine'

Produced by Simon Richardson. First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 21 December 2018

Death at the Bed End

Written by Stephen Wakelam.

Directed by Janet Whitaker.

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 4 December 2004

Mrs Gaskell: Portrait of a Victorian Novelist

Written by Barry Campbell based on Elizabeth Gaskell: A Biography by Winifred Gérin. Permission granted by Oxford Publishing Ltd (Academic), Oxford University Press (via PLSclear). Produced by James Runcie. First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 21 August 1983 

Great Lives: Mrs Gaskell

Presented by Francine Stock

With Amanda Vickery and Jenny Uglow. First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 20 May 2005 

©2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

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